An un-askable question?

If:

the Anglican Consultative Council decides tomorrow to endorse an unamended version of the proposed Anglican Covenant and send it to the provinces for approval without removing loopholes that would allow individual dioceses and schismatic Episcopal churches to sign on

And if:

the ACC endorses the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group, thereby enacting what amount to open-ended moratoria on the authorization of rites of blessing for same-sex relationships and the consecration of partnered gay bishops

will

the question of whether the Episcopal Church should withdraw from the Anglican Communion be discussed in polite company, or will those who raise it continue to be treated as zealots?

Why

do we assume that the issue of whether our Church should belong to an organization that preserves its unity by discriminating against gay and lesbian Christians is so far out of bounds that our leaders won't examine it in public?

Comments (21)

And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

The leadership of the Anglican Communion is in the mood preserving rather than blessing, and in the process making church precious and small.

The Episcopal Church can't control that. We can control what we do. We can uncork the blessings.

Amen.

Lionel Deimel

It is time to stop chasing those would would alter our path. It is time for an Episcopalian Bill of Rights. Lets not worry about what "they" do anymore and let us get on with living out Christ's love on earth.

History and our church's DNA may be on our side asking Jim's question. The Episcopal Church of Scotland and then the American Episcopal Church both broke ties with England over questions of honesty and conscience (an oath of allegiance to a king). The outcome, surprisingly, wasn't permanent division but a global church, but it took more than a century to get there.

While England was building its empire, somehow or other, and despite our three different Prayer Books and a history that included the U.S. and Britain at war again in 1812, with no 'instruments of union' our three churches still found something that held us together. That 19th century discovery and experience readied the ground for the 20th century breakup of the British Empire and all the colonial Churches which had been Church of England in whatever colony became the Anglican Church in that country.

In the 20th century, a communion and mutual acknowledgment emerged because common tradition and vision deeper than the powerful divides of politics carried us past conscientious protest to change (for all).

'Episcopal' in our name and the Scottish church's name essentially commemorates the politics and the bitterer time of division, we can wear the label with pride. Conscience and a commitment to democratic freedom in church order kept us from acknowledgment of English (and royal) sovereignty.

Can the American church remain itself and true to its vocation accepting the patriarchal clericalism of the two lines Windsor tries to draw - no gay bishops and no gay marriage? Conscientiously we've already addressed those issues in our commitment to full inclusion of baptized gay members. That means some of our gay members may discern call to the blessing of committed relationship (which we actually call 'marriage') and we and some of our gay members may discern that they're called to be our ordained leaders, including bishops.

Jim, in answer to your last question, there is no reason not to discuss whether the Episcopal Church remains part of a discriminatory organization. And finding the answer should be easy.

Why, indeed, is discrimination the great unmentionable? And why should those of us who want the discussion out in the open be concerned if we are seen as zealots?

June Butler

Your suggestion is certainly a viable sectarian solution to the present troubles. Acting on it would clearly demonstrate that the Episcopal Church no longer wishes to be considered catholic. We could still dress up and prance around the chancel, though...

Dennis Bosely

Dennis, I am more interested in whether we are Christian than whether we are catholic.

Lets not worry about what "they" do anymore and let us get on with living out Christ's love on earth.¨ Fred Schwartz

It´s the hipocrital and feardriven ¨they´s¨ that often oppress and exploit heterosexual women and lgbt Episcopalians/Anglicans at all levels of Churchlife.

Never in my lifetime have I seen such lack of common sense as the ABC demonstrates when he tries to keep his idealized version of a ¨Communion¨ together...he actually ignores the current and ongoing ¨witch hunts¨ ¨massacres¨ and ¨persecution¨ of fellow Anglicans and other human beings in Africa. Instead the ABC plots to TRUMP the full inclusion and the welcome/healing of marginalized outcasts in the Americas, in Africa and beyond.

What´s wrong with his messmaking?

Is plain spite and punishment being generated by ordering/organizing and appointing a manipulative/contrived ¨Windsor Continuing Group¨
and a castigation loaded ¨covenant ramrod team?¨

Communionwide covenant tactics seem narrowly focused and aimed at control and punishment of inclusive Anglicans.

++Rowans idea of sensibile and prudent Communionwide leadership also fails the test of transparency at The Body of Christ. We are being railroaded.

Many REAL, corrupt and deadly MORAL issues in Africa and beyond haven´t been addressed by Dr. Williams. The ABC fails to see and then share his wisdom and leadership where it is badly needed.

Anglicans are being persecuted, some are being gravely harmed.

Playing dangerous games of abusive PRETEND is REAL and destructive. I don´t think it´s ¨widerchurchmanship¨ to avoid difficulties in understanding lgbt sexual orientation and the possible and ACTUAL integrity of each of Gods children...it seems cowardly and stubborn to impact REAL lives by endlessly condeming the morals of other Anglicans, lgbt or not.


One of the worst things about our culture -- and the church is as infected by it as any other sector of the public sphere -- is a reluctance to grapple honestly with hard questions. Whether to withdraw from the Anglican Communion is a hard question, as least for me. On the other hand, since no action of the so-called Instruments of Unity have any juridical force in TEC, I would argue forcefully for ignoring the Covenant. Perhaps I'm coming down in favor of the Bill of Rights that Fred Schwartz refers to above.
As one of the vestry sponsors of two of the Philadelphia Eleven, I know the value of ecclesiological civil disobedience and favor it over walking away. But it is imperative that the question be discussed -- not ignored.

Soory, I forgot to sign. I'm Allen Mellen

I am not sure why any movement in this direction would make us less catholic, unless the heart of catholicism is embracing injustice for the sake of unity. Perhaps it would make us more catholic because it makes us more Christian and in harmony with the mind of Christ. Belonging at all costs is not the gospel way so far as I am aware.

On the question of catholicity, mightn't we recall that our original Anglican justification for breaking from Rome's juridical supervision was our recognition that were catholic polities (Eastern Church) that were ordered nationally? America's original break from the church of England rested on most of the same ecclesiological foundation as England's break from Rome. Catholicity meant local (national) authority.

There were a couple of problems, but if we need to we can learn from them or live with them.

First, the American church's independence came with one weird rewriting of the Prayer Book (along with some very good rewrites). Without a monarch, the 1789 BCP changed 'O Lord, save the king' to 'O Lord, save the state.' It was a persecuted Christian church that began praying for its emperor persecutor. And established church (as the American church partly aspired to be) apparently didn't notice the difference between always praying for the ruler - good or bad, friend or enemy, and praying for the preservation of the state.

Bigger, and probably part of the way forward if we choose to separate from this official thing we've invented called 'the communion' is that the Orthodox churches who inspired our original independence show more often than not how much argument and hostility catholic sister churches can show one another.

If we claim conscience, catholicity, and continuity, the challenge will be (as it's been since 2003) to find the ways we're working together with our sisters and brothers despite institutional rift - how are we partnering to fight AIDS, Malaria and TB globally? - how are we offering our educational resources in service of training Anglican leaders from (and better yet in) third world Anglican churches? How do we share prayer? (And actually what statement would we make in continuing a global Anglican cycle of prayer without worrying about institutional glue and divisive "instruments of unity"?

Jim,
Knowing so clearly what's Christian and what isn't is a very sectarian point of view.

Dennis Bosley

Exactly. That is why I think the Covenant is a sectarian document that eliminates the necessary room for a diversity of opinion on contentious issues. Looks like I am the real catholic.

"It is time to stop chasing those would would alter our path. It is time for an Episcopalian Bill of Rights. Lets not worry about what "they" do anymore and let us get on with living out Christ's love on earth."

Posted by Fred Schwartz

Took the words out of my mouth, Fred. I have (unfortunately) lots of experience in seeing how utterly futile it is to run after people who disagree with you, don't like you because of it, and intend to take control over you. That situation NEVER results in love and understanding, only in more of the same abuse. As terribly upsetting as it is, the only remedy (if there is to be one) is time and distance. A hundred years might be a start. Running after the Communion, hoping they will somehow think better of us, is a forlorn hope. Whether it is more accurate to say the Communion has become some unrecognizable tertium quid, or that we are just now seeing it for what it is, we have no business going along with it.

I'm ready to stop expending $$, prayer, and energy on them.
Let's learn when to say "enough".
Cheryl in NC

(Editors: Thanks, Cheryl. We need your full name next time.)

This is ridiculous. The Anglican Communion becomes high church Methodism if this ridiculous "covenant" junk becomes binding. I'm sorely disappointed in Cantuar, this is not what I had in mind when I rejoiced at his consecration.

the Episcopal Church no longer wishes to be considered catholic. We could still dress up and prance around the chancel, though...

Resolved: Dennis Bosely is trolling this board. EC moderators, please remove my comment, after you've removed his.

JC Fisher

I'm never in favor of voluntarily leaving an institution, that has become unjust: that would be rewarding the injustice-doers.

No, stay and RESIST. Surrender not ONE iota to the injustice (e.g., keep marrying same-sex couples, and ordaining/consecrating those in them), and then show up to AC "Instruments of Communion" events per usual. Invited or not!

...and then dare the ABC (etc) to arrest TEC delegations. Nothing so GUARANTEES the victory of a just cause, as cops being called out on them! [Yes, I still WISH +GR had shown up at "the Big Blue Tent" last summer. It was his decision to make---and he did a LOT of good out "on the Fringe"---but still...]

JC Fisher

There would be legal implications. It would give credence to the argument that there has been a split.

From a business perspective, I'd suggest it would be prudent to wait until the property that has been...ummm..."unethically acquired" is recovered before saying such a thing too loudly.

But then, from an ethical perspective, we've waited too long already, imo.

Just pointing out that the brunt of the "cost" of such a declaration will most likely be born by those in the reorganizing dioceses and others with pending court cases.

To clarify, we need to never forget the "game plan."

If we are no longer the "Anglican franchise" in North America, a void is created. ACNA is ready to step in. If they successfully take the "hierarchal church" argument a step further (which is what is behind much of the recent rhetoric, imo), and claim that allegiance to the Anglican Communion is the standard by which property settlements should be made, we may take a few more bad hits in court, and not just in Virginia.

No, its not really about the property. I just don't like to see us playing right into their game plan.

I still do not see the need for us to do anything at all. We certainly will not have had time for all the bishops and deputies to carefully consider the Covenant by GC2009. That means the earliest we will need to seriously address it is GC2012. Until then, it is simply one option, yet to have any real impact on our common life.

Push the issues, if that is what you think is best. But, always consider the cost.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Let's stay as connected as we're allowed to be, but be really clear and really loud about our "no" to any provision of a covenant that violates the non-discrimination canons or the Baptismal Covenant. It's time for the appeasement to stop.

Tell me again: was B033 really worth it? How has it advanced the cause of Christ? Has it even preserved the Anglican Communion, a much lesser good?

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